Everyone in the Netherlands is familiar with the work of the Dutch artist Peter Struycken, if only because his portrait of Queen Beatrix, which is made of digital shifted dots, still graces numerous Dutch postage stamps some thirty years after he created it.
Computer-generated images are common now, making it difficult to imagine how innovative and pioneering Struycken was when he first used computers to create works of art in the late 1960s, and when he chose in 1981 to use a computer to produce his portrait of the Dutch queen.
Struycken’s work, for which he often uses digital techniques, is based on a methodical, logical, consistent and verifiable investigation of colours, shapes and processes. In the late 1970s, for example, he used a simple computer program to design a series of sixteen pastel shades that he then used in his colour scheme for the auditorium of the Kröller-Müller Museum.
Struycken’s work is usually non-figurative or decorative. It takes on many different forms, ranging from sketches, paintings and videos to costumes, set designs, and lighting and visuals for dance or music concerts.
Struycken is best known among the general public for his interior and open-air spatial designs. He creates beautifully seductive works that give viewers a new sense of space, shape and colour, using the computer as one of the tools of his craft.
Struycken’s work takes people on a journey through a dynamic, three-dimensional colour space, for example his ten-metre-long screen in the Groningen Museum. However systematic and methodical the origins of the work may be, its viewers are caught up in a mystical experience.
Struycken created computer-controlled lighting for various buildings and interiors, for example for the underground passage of the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam, which is transformed into a rainbow arcade of coloured light at night. He also designed the ceiling of the Music Theatre in Amsterdam and the Concert Hall in Tilburg.
Another well-known work is Blue Waves, an undulating pattern of white and blue paving stones beneath a bridge crossing the Rhine in Arnhem.